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Description: Simple question: who is happier a 30 year old or a 70 year old? What do you think? Must be the 30 year old if only for the existential issues, 70 years of age is WAY closer to death than 30 so, of course the 30 year old is happier right? Well, wrong, actually. Think about how or why that could be and then read the article linked below to see how psychologists are addressing these questions.

Source: Why you can look forward to being happier in old age, Jeffery Kluger, Time Magazine.

Date: September 6, 2018

Photo Credit: Time Magazine

Article Links:


What do you think of the happiness curve? Children and old people are happier than most in the middle. While children could be viewed as happy due to their innocence or naivete what is up with older people? Terror management, wisdom and experience all likely play roles in positive aging. Likewise, and noted in the video clip associated with the article, people who maintain a general sense of life purpose age more slowly physically in terms of things like the onset of “slow walking.” So, check you potentially ageist assumptions and think more positive thoughts about aging.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the general findings of happiness levels among older adults compared to middle aged adults?
  2. How might we account for those differences?
  3. When we look at successful, aging CEO’s, what is it about them that supports their continuing success despite some of the changes they experience with age?

References (Read Further): Lacey, H. P., Smith, D. M., & Ubel, P. A. (2006). Hope I die before I get old: Mispredicting happiness across the adult lifespan. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(2), 167-182.

Oerlemans, W. G., Bakker, A. B., & Veenhoven, R. (2011). Finding the key to happy aging: A day reconstruction study of happiness. Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 66(6), 665-674.

Jopp, D., & Rott, C. (2006). Adaptation in very old age: Exploring the role of resources, beliefs, and attitudes for centenarians’ happiness. Psychology and aging, 21(2), 266.’_Happiness/links/564dc3ff08ae1ef9296acd54.pdf

Seligman, M. E. (2012). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Simon and Schuster.